A bit of an extended post today, as I have some exciting and wonderful news to share. Adventures in Cooking has been nominated for Best Original Recipes at Saveur's 2013 Food Blog Awards. I was driving in my car when I found out (yes I looked down at my phone when it beeped that Brianne had tweeted me a congratulations) and I promptly freaked out and shouted with joy, alarming the many other drivers stuck next to me on the 405 southbound. I feel so honored to be nominated along with so many other talented bloggers and so grateful to have such an involved and supportive readership. You are all awesome and wonderful and reading your comments makes my life a better place to be. If you have a moment, it would mean a lot if you hopped over to the Saveur website and gave me a vote before Friday, April 19th. Thank you again for your support! I can hardly contain my excitement and plan on going out tonight and getting this sandwich to celebrate.
But yes. 'Tis spring! The poppies and columbines in my garden are in full bloom, the neighborhood smells like jasmine, and I've been spending the majority of my spare time in the garden trying to whip my slumping broccoli and brussels sprouts back into shape for a late harvest. With spring's arrival came the slightly paralyzing realization that I was running a bit behind on getting my save-the-dates sent out. I definitely could have sped up the process by printing the addresses onto the envelopes, but I love the elegance and personal touch of calligraphy, so I ended up addressing each one by hand with my nifty new calligraphy pen.
When the box of them arrived on my doorstep I could hardly contain my delight. I carefully opened the package as quickly as I could, and once the lid came off I literally jumped up and down with joy. They came out so beautifully and seeing them just made me even more excited about getting married. The save-the-dates were designed and hand painted by my incredibly talented illustrator/photographer/good friend Jade Sheldon. If you're looking for personalized wedding invitations, save-the-dates, or general custom artwork, I highly recommend checking out some of her previous illustration work on her illustration tumblr and getting in touch with her over on her blog Endlessly Enraptured. She is a dream to work with and a truly gifted artist who has experience with pretty much every illustration medium. Thank you again, Jade for doing such a wonderful job!
And after all those hours spent writing and stamping and licking and sealing, I needed a special treat after I finally dropped off the heaping stack of them at the post office. And that treat came in the form of one of my favorite simple sweets, the doughnut. I wanted to try baking them and decided to use this solid baked buttermilk doughnut recipe from the Washington Post. But I wanted to get creative with the glaze and came up with my own little springtime concoction of a few of my favorite fruity and savory flavors: strawberry, rhubarb, and brown butter.
For those of you unfamiliar with brown butter, it's butter that is cooked in a pan over medium heat until it just begins to turn light brown and starts to smell like toffee and nuts. (It tastes as amazing as it smells! I was so excited about how it tasted in this recipe that I ended up using brown butter in a savory dish that I'll be posting in a few days. I tend to get obsessed with flavors I really like, so just a head's up there will probably be even more brown butter posts in the future.) I briefly roasted the strawberries and rhubarb to help evaporate some of the excess moisture, soften them up a tad, and enhance their flavor. This combined with the brown butter, white chocolate, and confectioners sugar created my all-time hands-down favorite glaze I've ever made. I was redipping the doughnuts in the bowl of glaze as I ate them so that I could get as much glaze on them as possible. I want to make a bundt cake with this same glaze sometime in the future, or perhaps create a more solid frosting version of it for a cake, I still haven't decided. But one thing is certain...this glaze has not yet seen the last of me. And it shouldn't see the last of you, either! Seriously, go eat this. You will be a very happy and doughnut-filled individual.
Baked Buttermilk Doughnuts
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Plus 1/2 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
5 Tablespoons Butter, melted and then cooled to room temperature
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
Strawberry Rhubarb Brown Butter Glaze
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Strawberries, cut into halves with green caps removed
1/2 Cup Rhubarb, chopped
1/4 Cup Cream
2 Heaping Tablespoons White Chocolate Chips
3/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds, for garnish
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on low speed until blended. Slowly drizzle in the butter and allow it to continue mixing for 3 minutes after you've poured in the butter. Then add the egg, vanilla, and buttermilk and increase the speed to medium. Allow the dough to knead for 8 minutes. Turn off the mixer, remove the bowl, cover it with a towel, and place it in a warm and dry location to rise for 1 and 1/2 hours.
While the dough is rising, you can begin making the glaze. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the rhubarb and strawberries in a small greased oven-safe casserole dish or pan. Roast them in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove and set them aside to cool enough for handling. While they are cooling, you can make the brown butter. When browning the butter, it is best to use a stainless steel pan so that you can see the color of the butter change. Yes, I was naughty and used a black one but if you're doing this for the first time I highly recommend using a stainless steel one. Heat the butter in a small shallow frying pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan around a bit every couple minutes to help it cook evenly. Over a period of a few minutes, you'll notice the foam at the top of the butter start to change from light yellow to a dark tan. Once it reaches the dark tan stage and the butter looks light brown and golden, smell it. It should smell nutty and similar to toffee. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
Pour the brown butter into a blender or food processor, leaving the hard burnt bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the strawberries, rhubarb, and cream and blend until a smooth puree is formed. Pour the puree into a small thick-bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is very warm/barely hot. Remove the pan from heat, add the white chocolate chips, and whisk until the white chocolate has melted and is completely incorporated into the mixture. Place the mixture in the refrigerator to chill.
While it is cooling, lightly grease the donut pan. Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 evenly-sized balls. Lightly flour them and then take a ball, poke a hole in the middle of it, and gradually shape it into a doughnut. Place it in the pan and repeat until you've ran out of dough or filled up the pan. Now let the dough rest for 30 minutes. If you only have one doughnut baking sheet that fits 6 doughnuts like myself, you don't have to let the dough rise for another 30 minutes when you put the second batch in the pan, you can just pop that tray in the oven straightaway.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the 30 minutes of resting has passed, put the sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the doughnuts have puffed up and are firm when you poke them but still white. You don't want them to get golden brown all over because at that point they've usually puffed up too much and closed up on the signature doughnut hole. If you find that your doughnuts have puffed up too much and closed in on the hole, do not fret! You can simply cut a hole in them with a knife once they've cooled. When you dip them in the glaze you won't be able to tell the difference.
So backtracking a bit, once you remove them from the oven flip the pan over onto a wire rack and allow the doughnuts to cool completely. If you need to bake another batch of the doughnuts do so now. Once the doughnuts are completely cooled (this is important), then you can take the cooled glaze mixture out of the refrigerator.
Whisk the powdered sugar into the glaze until it is completely combined. When it comes to glazing the doughnuts, there are two options. You can drizzle the glaze over them with a spoon, or just grab them between two of your fingers and dip the top half in so it has a nice even glaze coating. Sprinkle with poppy seeds as a garnish and serve! If you have leftovers, they keep well in the fridge for a few days when wrapped well with plastic wrap.